|Climate Change is real and it is happening now. The damage is not just from floods and storms wreaking havoc on our homes and businesses, but from the losses to agriculture from too much rain, drought or unseasonal temperatures. In short, climate change threatens our food security. In 2012-13 there was a real crisis affecting farming right across Britain, from a combination of drought, floods and then a very cold spring, coinciding with a worldwide rise in grain prices caused by weather extremes in the USA and Russia.
What we know from climate science is that more is to follow. A lot more, as the effect from greenhouse gas emissions has only just started, and we are locked in to more warming and consequently a lot more destabilising energy in the atmosphere.
In Britain we might take comfort from the predictions showing less warming close to the North Atlantic, but that is only going to make the climate less predictable and weather extremes more frequent. So what can we do prepare, to make our farms more resilient? Are there any lessons from organic farms, permaculture, agro-forestry systems working in places used to severe weather? Can they provide lessons for dealing with adverse weather? Moreover - provide a model of a more sustainable use of our uplands and other marginal areas?
The Marginal Lands Project looks at how farms, smallholdings, agro-forestry holdings, crofts and larger gardens, use innovations and minimal inputs to adapt and thrive in an inhospitable environment*. It is focused on growing to support a wider land use, and to encourage the availability of fresh, healthy, locally and sustainability grown produce to locations where large transport costs are normally incurred.
The shared experience of the Marginal Lands Project participants will build up knowledge on resilience to climate change, as well as provide the ingredients of a vision of sustainable landscape in our marginal lands.
For the purposes of the project an inhospitable environment are locations classified by the EU as Less Favoured Areas for Agriculture (Disadvantaged and Severely Disadvantaged).
|To underline the importance of this process, The Paris Agreement signed by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2016 [including the United Kingdom] states in Article 9 that:
"Each Party shall, as appropriate, engage in adaptation planning processes and the implementation of actions, including the development or enhancement of relevant plans, policies and/or contributions, which may include… […] (e) "Building the resilience of socioeconomic and ecological systems, including through economic diversification and sustainable management of natural resources."